A national research report suggests as few as one in ten dog and cat owners in Evanston comply with the city’s pet licensing ordinance. But the city is considering at least doubling fees for the small minority of pet owners who do obey.

The city collected just $44,000 last year from its animal license fees, which now stand at $10 for neutered dogs and cats and $15 for non-neutered ones.

Chief Animal Warden Linda Teckler told aldermen on the Human Services Committee Monday that the city issues between 1,500 and 2,000 licenses for cats and a similar number for dogs each year.

By contrast a study by the Schaumburg-based American Veterinary Medical Association concludes that Americans had a total of almost 154 million dogs and cats last year — roughly one pet for every two people.

If Evanston is typical of the rest of the country, that means more than 34,000 unlicensed dogs and cats are barking and meowing their way through life here in defiance of city authority.

Teckler asked the aldermen on the city’s Human Services Committee to double the license fee for neutered dogs and cats to $20, and more than triple the fee for un-neutered animals to $50.

The fee for dogs judged dangerous by the city would stay at $100.

Teckler says the fees haven’t been increased for 30 years. She says the higher fee for un-neutered animals is justified because statistics show that neutered male animals are less likely to bite.

Asked by Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, about enforcement of the licensing ordinance, Teckler said that with only two animal control officers, the only time the ordinance is enforced is when an animal is picked up as a stray.

“Years ago we used to have people go door to door to try to get people to purchase the city licenses,” Teckler said.

The proposed ordinance would also raise impound and shelter fees, require that pens for dangerous dogs have a concrete floor and require that dangerous dogs be neutered and be implanted with an identifying microchip.

Committee members voted to have the city manager’s office and the legal department review the proposal, which could be on the City Council’s agenda as soon as April 28.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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